• grounded theory;
  • methodology;
  • rigour;
  • nursing;
  • sampling;
  • creativity;
  • reflexivity;
  • precision

Methodological issues in grounded theory

Examination of the qualitative methodological literature shows that there appear to be conflicting opinions and unresolved issues regarding the nature and process of grounded theory. Researchers proposing to utilize this method would therefore be wise to consider these conflicting opinions. This paper therefore identifies and attempts to address four key issues, namely, sampling, creativity and reflexivity, the use of literature, and precision within grounded theory. The following recommendations are made. When utilizing a grounded method researchers need to consider their research question, clarify what level of theory is likely to be induced from their study, and then decide when they intend to access and introduce the second body of literature. They should acknowledge that in the early stages of data collection, some purposeful sampling appears to occur. In their search for conceptually dense theory, grounded theory researchers may wish to free themselves from the constraints that limit their use of creativity and tacit knowledge. Furthermore, the interests of researchers might be served by attention to issues of precision including, avoiding method slurring, ensuring theoretical coding occurs, and using predominantly one method of grounded theory while explaining and describing any deviation away from this chosen method. Such mindfulness and the resulting methodological rigour is likely to increase the overall quality of the inquiry and enhance the credibility of the findings.